BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

The Full Election Story: April 27

By Victoria King, Andy McFarlane, Kevin Young and Justin Parkinson

  • The parties face growing scrutiny of their spending plans amid claims they are not being upfront about cuts
  • Nick Clegg outlines plans for the NHS, including giving nurses more decision-making power
  • David Cameron discusses ways of fixing "Britain's broken society" and is backed by former EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella, whose brother Ben was stabbed to death
  • Labour warns that children will bear the brunt of Conservative and Lib Dem cuts

2355 Tuesday - scroll to bottom of page to read through the day chronologicallyIt seems discussions on Wednesday will continue to be dominated by the issue of when and to what extent the main parties will cut public spending. The Telegraph, like many of the papers, headlines on the issue. It proclaims it is "The Story These Men Don't Want You To Read", displaying pictures of Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown and David Cameron beneath.

2310More newspaper headlines. The Financial Times reports that the Conservatives are exploring the possibility of a deal with Scottish and Welsh nationalists in the event of a hung parliament, to avoid the need to compromise with the Lib Dems over electoral reform.

2305The finance spokesmen of the three largest parties fight their corners on Newsnight amid claims they are not telling the whole truth about spending cuts. For Labour, Liam Byrne says they have set out £20bn of proposed savings from curbing public sector pay and cutting certain programmes. Conservative Philip Hammond accuses Labour of "hiding behind" the uncertain state of the economy in not giving more details. Vince Cable denies the Lib Dems' £15bn worth of proposed cuts are a "drop in the ocean" but admits more will have to be done.

2237 The Daily Mail warns that the UK faces a "tax bombshell", with parties refusing to "come clean" over the measures needed to cut the budget deficit.

2226Wednesday's newspaper front pages are starting to come in. The Independent leads on the Institute for Fiscal Studies' call for the leading parties to be more open about the need for spending cuts during the next parliament. "Tell us the truth on the economy," its headline implores. The Guardian does the same, saying all the parties are "dishonest on cuts".

2200 Labour have drawn level with the Liberal Democrats, with the Conservatives maintaining a narrow lead, an opinion poll suggests. ComRes, for The Independent and ITV News, puts Labour on 29%, one point up on yesterday, along with the Lib Dems, who are down two. The Tories are up one on 33%. ComRes telephoned 1,005 adults on Sunday and Monday.

2145Plaid Cymru leader Ieuan Wyn Jones repeats his call for "fair funding" for Wales, saying the country needs an extra £300m a year.

2134Lib Dem energy spokesman Simon Hughes says his is a progressive, left-of-centre party but it is "different" from Labour in opposing centralisation.

2125Peter Hoath writes: "Societal attitudes to marriage and family aren't things politicians can actually influence. Governments should stick to the finance of the nation and not waste time trying to do ineffective social engineering."
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2118Guardian columnist Jackie Ashley tells the BBC News Channel's Campaign Show this could be a good election to lose, as whoever wins will be "deeply unpopular" when they bring in cuts.

2055The 2010 election has been touted as the first to be fought on the internet. The TV debates may have put paid to that idea, but at least spoof posters are all the rage online. The communications firm Engine has put together a selection of its favourites from the campaign so far.

2045Chris, in Marlow, writes: "Will the SNP also refund licence payers' money to cover the BBC's legal costs in this pointless challenge?" He adds that the party is not "offering a prime minister, so why should they be on a prime ministerial debate"?
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2036A YouGov poll for The Sun puts Labour ahead of the Lib Dems. It has Labour up one point from yesterday on 29%, the Lib Dems down one on 28% and the Conservatives unchanged on 33%. YouGov questioned 1,598 adults on Monday and Tuesday.

2021needafairmedia writes: "I see lots of comments from people who were brought up by a single parent or whose families do not 'fit the mould' yet have become rounded and happy people. I myself was just 17 when I had my son. He went on to read maths at Cambridge - despite his working class background. He eventually gained a Ph.D and is happy and successful. However, we are the fortunate minority. You just have to look at the statistics to see that children from single parents fare much worse than those brought up with married parents. We cannot and should not ignore the facts. I admire David Cameron for trying to grasp the nettle on this issue. Good luck to him."
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2012A Populus poll for The Times suggests the Conservatives have increased their lead over the other parties. It puts the Tories on 36%, up four points on last week, with the Lib Dems down three on 28% and Labour down one on 27%. Populus questioned 1,510 voters on Monday and Tuesday.

2004online_genius_11 writes: "Cameron is very right. This society is broken and we do need families to be fixed to lay the foundations for a better society. This country's divorce rate is off the wall and that is a very depressing fact. Marriage should be central to all couples, and staying together forever is of the utmost importance. It doesn't help a child to grow up in a broken family. "
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1955Preethi, in London, writes: "I agree entirely with the parent of the disabled child. My daughter is severely disabled and we had to fight hard to have her included in her local school. Every child deserves to go to their local mainstream school. It benefits non-disabled children too. A segregated society is a broken society."
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1950Former cabinet secretary Lord Turnbull says he thinks a hung parliament is "highly likely". Civil servants will be frantically drawing up plans for dealing with parties having to work together in government, he tells Sky News.

1941The parent who confronted David Cameron over his policy on disabled children's schooling says the Tory leader "hasn't really engaged" in debate. Jonathan Bartley, whose son has spina bifida, earlier said he was concerned that the Conservatives wanted to "end the bias towards the inclusion of children with special needs in mainstream schools". Mr Cameron has denied that he is planning to force disabled children into special needs schools.

1926Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling tells Sky News it was "unacceptable" for a Conservative candidate to state on his website that gay people are "not normal". Lib Dem schools spokesman David Laws says voters will be pleased that Philip Lardner has been suspended from the Conservative Party but adds that they will fear there is still a "strain" of such thinking among Tories.

1900Shadow housing minister Grant Shapps is out and about campaigning. He's in the Panshanger part of the Welwyn Garden City constituency he's hoping to retain at the election. Read Garant Shapps' tweets

1833None of the main parties will say they are going to spend less money on services that "mean a lot to people". The danger is that there will be a public spending crisis after the election, with the public angry at not being forewarned by politicians, BBC political editor Nick Robinson says.
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1820The Conservatives are accusing Labour of using "low politics" in their latest election broadcast, which focuses on the issue of cancer care. Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley says the Tories are, by contrast, "fighting a relentlessly positive campaign with a message of hope and change".

1755More from the Electoral Commission, which has listed money given to parties in the second week of campaigning. The Buckinghamshire Campaign for Democracy, which is opposing the re-election of Commons Speaker John Bercow, is declaring two donations worth £20,000 in total.

1741"Doh! No wonder Cameron's heckler wouldn't let go - he's been on the Moral Maze," writes the Daily Telegraph's Richard Preston. He's published a blog entry on the man who challenged the Tory leader earlier about care for disabled children.
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1731UKIP threaten legal action against the BBC - along the lines of the SNP's court case - unless their leader, Lord Pearson, is included in the next televised debate, the BBC's Alan Soady says. The party have given the BBC until 1200 BST on Wednesday to agree to change the line-up. The debate is shown on BBC One at 2030 BST on Thursday.

1726 Davidchivall tweets: Vote Cameron, get people like Lardner and Grayling? Read Davidchivall's tweets
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1724David Cameron accepts the Conservatives have more to do to reassure gay people, says the BBC's Carole Walker. "We've been on a journey," he tells reporters on his election bus. "Have we gone far enough and fast enough? Maybe not." But Mr Cameron stresses the Tories' policies include support for gay partnerships, efforts to tackle homophobic bullying and support for ending Section 28, the controversial law brought in by his party in 1988 banning councils from portraying homosexuality in a positive light.
Carole Walker

1718The Liberal Democrats received £100,000 more in donations in the second week of the election campaign than they did in the first, says the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg. They were given £120,000, as opposed to £20,000 in week one, which preceded the first televised prime minsterial debate. The Conservatives received a total of £2.2m in the second week (up on £1.45m), while Labour were given just under £1.5m (up from £780,000).
Laura Kuenssberg

1710More on Philip Lardner now - he's the Tory candidate suspended for saying gay people were "not normal". Party leader David Cameron says these remarks were "not acceptable". "That's not what the Conservative Party stands for so I acted very quickly to deal with it," he adds.

1657A disabled man confronts David Cameron outside the Bolton Lads and Girls club, urging him to guarantee he will not stop his benefit if the Tories gain power. Mr Cameron offers his guarantee and then boards his battlebus.

1652Forget about buses, planes, or even trains. Green Party candidate Tony Juniper is taking to the streets of Cambridge on a "battle bike", with election leaflets stacked up on the child seat. Mr Juniper, a former director of Friends of the Earth, says: "The bike's an ideal way to get around and meet people and it runs on the ultimate green fuel - leg power."

1643David Cameron plays table tennis against a young man at the Bolton Lads and Girls Club. The Tory leader has quite an aggressive style - perhaps overly so. A coach might advocate less physical force and a bit more accuracy in his play.

1638Martha from London writes: Both Cameron and Brown are referring to Clegg as smug and arrogant to be talking about who to make a coalition with, but it's been the press who hounded Clegg for an answer on a hung parliament in the first place, and wouldn't ask him questions about policy.
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1630David Cameron is at Bolton Lads and Girls Club, talking to young people about their career aspirations.

1621Tony Hetherington from Huntingdon writes: The main problem for the parties is that any trust we had in them has gone with the expenses scam. We now just don't believe them.
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1611TeamJP26 tweets: British debates are making news here in Canada because of how they are affecting the polls and potential results. We need weekly election debates here! Read TeamJP26's tweets
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1603The former Green candidate, Peter Tatchell, has urged party supporters to vote for the Liberal Democrats in constituencies where they have an incumbent MP or a strong chance of winning. The Greens distanced themselves from the remarks, saying Mr Tatchell was giving his own opinion and that it was not official party policy.

1553A Conservative candidate has been suspended for describing gay people as "not normal" on his website, the party says. The comments made by Philip Lardner, running for the seat of North Ayrshire and Arran, were branded "deeply offensive and unacceptable" by a Tory spokeswoman.

1549David Cameron has been on an impromptu walkabout in Bury. Promenading through the town's market he was handed a four-month-old baby, Sienna Rose Quinn, who was wearing a hand-knitted hooded cardigan. The Tory leader, perhaps remembering a less congenial trip to Greater Manchester three years ago, quipped: "I'm hugging a hoodie; it's official."

1540John Morgan from Stockbridge writes: I had been flirting with the idea that the Lib Dems were saying something new. Having heard Nick Clegg speak today I couldn't bring myself to support them - he's entirely vacuous and superficial.
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1534Nick Clegg follows Gordon Brown in getting a standing ovation from the nurses' conference in Bournemouth. He leaves the building - or at least the auditorium. Empire State of Mind, a song about street life in New York by Alicia Keys, is playing on the loudspeaker. Goodness knows why. It's very catchy, though. "When you're in Neeeew York," the lyrics go. Would "Bournemouth" scan the same?

1526It's time for Tiewatch, our daily look at the neckwear sported by leading politicians. The BBC's fashion insider, Claire Williams, has been busy watching the Daily Politics business spokesmen's debate. She says: "Lord Mandelson is wearing lilac - a softer version of THE classic tie colour worn by political leaders during the economic downturn, and recovery. The SNP's John Swinney is also wearing a purple - a deep violet with a classic white stripe - which is both stylish and business-like. John Thurso of the Lib Dems is looking very dapper in a smart red tie with a diagonal spotted pattern, but with his dark pinstripe suit his outfit would tick more boxes in the boardroom than on the catwalk. Ken Clarke is the fourth person taking part - he's taken a more laidback approach to the whole affair and is modelling a navy tie with a multi-coloured pastel spotted pattern. This, combined with his slightly rumpled suit, shows he's channelling his own brand of relaxed conservatism."

1518At the Bournemouth conference, Nick Clegg is asked whether nurses should get the right to sack badly performing chief executives. The questioner gets a massive cheer. Mr Clegg jokes that he will not "sanction a lynch mob". He says he wants to "empower" NHS staff. He adds that the current level of top-down bureaucracy is "preposterous" - a word the Lib Dem leader uses quite frequently.

1512 Watching the debate on BBC Two, Ilmigliorfabbro is impressed by Lib Dem business spokesman John Thurso for reasons other than his arguments. He tweets: How can anyone vote for Mandy or Ken over Thurso's superb moustache? Every single hair of that beast simply oozes credibility. Read Ilmigliorfabbro's tweets
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1509The NHS can and must do more to increase efficiency, Nick Clegg says. It must be turned "on its head", allowing power to "flow up", while nurses must help to "make it happen". After a round of applause, it is time for some questions.

1505Nick Clegg is speaking at the Royal College of Nursing conference in Bournemouth. He says a Lib Dem government would cut bureaucracy and streamline quangos. No NHS chief executive would earn more than the prime minister, he adds.
Nick Clegg

1500The SNP's John Swinney says "swingeing" cuts proposed by the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour would damage the economy. Lord Mandelson responds that Labour have a "good record" in helping business. The debate is over. Wednesday's subject: health.

1457Ken Clarke says he is "astonished" that the British have been so quiet about the "massive gap" in income which has grown in the UK since Labour came to power. Lord Mandelson argues that people's earnings must be justified by hard work and productivity.

1454Ken Clarke is asked if he could work with Lord Mandelson in a coalition government. He says no, as Labour's tax policies "distort" the system. In return, Lord Mandelson says that, under the Tories, industry would face a tax "bombshell".

1451Lib Dem John Thurso says a hung parliament could produce cuts discussed between parties in a "straight manner". The SNP's John Swinney says there are "plenty" of European countries with coalition governments which have maintained their top-grade credit rating.

1447Ken Clarke accuses Lord Mandelson of picking his statistics "with care, with tweezers". The business secretary says no other party has set out its "own stall" in as detailed a way as Labour.

1444It's getting livelier. Ken Clarke says the Labour government has not done enough to help manufacturing. Lord Mandelson counters that this is "completely untrue".

1441Ken Clarke says he agrees with the International Monetary Fund's call for a tax on bank profits across the world. This will help cut the level of risk-taking by financiers, the shadow business secretary adds.

1437The SNP's John Swinney says that, if Scotland was independent, it would have had access to the North Sea oil fields. Because of this it would have been able to "anchor" the bail-out of HBOS and RBS without help from London, he adds.

1432Lib Dem business spokesman John Thurso says nobody had "oversight for systemic risk" in the financial industry. There was a "culture of testosterone and greed in the City", he adds.

1428Lord Mandelson says Labour should have encouraged the Financial Services Authority to be "more intrusive" in regulating banks. Ken Clarke says the system of scrutiny put in place by Gordon Brown was "quite useless".

1425Shadow business secretary Ken Clarke says he believes in the free market, modified by a "social conscience". Business needs greater access to credit, he adds.

1423The election is about creating "lasting and sustainable jobs", Lib Dem business spokesman John Thurso says. These must be based on "great, traditional British industries", he argues.

1421The SNP's John Swinney says "balanced" parliaments, like that at Holyrood, can deliver business-friendly budgets.

1419The Daily Politics business spokesmen's debate is under way. Lord Mandelson is up first. The economy faces a "heck of a challenge", he says. Industry must be rebalanced in favour of green technologies, he adds.

1415All is apparently well with Lib Dem election co-ordinator Danny Alexander's world. He tweets that, at a church club lunch, he has "met some wonderful people" and faced "some good questions". And the weather's good too. Here's to campaigning. Read Danny Alexander's tweets.

1402Just 15 minutes to go until the battle of the big beasts. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson comes face-to-face with Tory shadow Ken Clarke on BBC Two's Daily Politics, along with Lib Dem spokesman John Thurso and the SNP's John Swinney. It's quite a treat for Westminster-watchers, as these three never debate with each other in the Commons, what with Lord Mandelson being a peer and all. And, of course, Mr Swinney is at Holyrood.

1357The PM is quizzed on cartoon character Peppa Pig's pullout from a Labour campaign event. After all the "candyfloss" and razzmatazz, the electorate will look at the parties' policies, he argues. On that porcine note, the phone-in ends.

1354The World at One phone-in continues, with Gordon Brown asked whether he is "proud" of his legacy. The PM says he is indeed proud of the way the country has changed, but there is "so much more" to do, in the UK and abroad.

1350 Charles Stirton from Bath writes: Some strange things are happening to the British political landscape. Nothing is what it seems. Words that were once reliable and familiar have changed their meaning. Politicians have disappeared off our streets. We are now living in a reality show.
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1346Gordon Brown is asked on a phone-in on Radio 4's World at One to apologise for the Iraq war. He says he regrets the lives lost among the UK military and Iraqi civilians but the "world is a better place" with Saddam gone and democracy in place.
Gordon Brown

1341Nick Wood, writing on the Conservative Home blog, says the Tories "will have to go on driving the message home all the way to polling day" that a hung parliament would be disastrous.

1332The SNP say they are backing the National Union of Students' campaign against raising university tuition fees.

1310Ruth H, from Dudley, writes: Somebody please ask the parties how they will respond to the rising price of fuel. It has risen hugely since last year again. The hike in costs is excessive and seems not to have been noticed in the election hype. It will be affecting people all over the country.
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1304Paul Sagar, writing on the Lib Dem Voice blog, says he finds the party's immigration policy "confusing", in particular the idea of restricting foreign workers to a particular locality. "Won't this counter the economic benefits of migrant workers that Nick Clegg rightly trumpets?" he asks. And more generally, he says, "isn't this proposal reminiscent of Elizabethan poor laws that effectively forced potential workers to stay in their home parish?"

1258Foreign Secretary David Miliband has been urging young people to use their vote. Speaking at a question-and-answer session in Blackpool, he told them to look at the parties and work out who had their interests - and those of their community - at heart. He added: "Apart from anything else, if you don't vote you've got no right to complain."

1250Kirsteen Fraser tweets: Are any other Scots on Twitter a bit perplexed by the hung parliament fears? We've had one since the start of devolution. Works here. Read Kirsteen Fraser's tweets
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1243The candidates at the BBC's town hall debate in Newquay are asked what measures they think should be taken to tackle the UK's fiscal deficit. Dick Cole, of Cornish nationalist party Mebyon Kernow, says he wants to stop the rich using "clever accountants" to avoid paying tax. Lee Jameson, of Labour, is asked what cuts he would make. "None," he says, "I wouldn't cut anything."

1236Nick Clegg has arrived at Southampton General Hospital and is giving a speech outside about his vision for the NHS. Later, he's going to be meeting cancer patients receiving treatment and will then follow in Gordon Brown's footsteps by speaking at the Royal College of Nursing conference.

1229"Labour's press conference this morning highlighted the party's problem," writes James Forsyth, of the Spectator. "Labour is demanding that the media cover policy more than process and personality. But when the discussion turns to the biggest policy issue of the day - how to cut the deficit - Labour doesn't want to engage."

1221The BBC is holding its third and final town hall debate in Newquay. One of the biggest issues for the town is youth binge drinking, and prospective parliamentary candidates have been giving their thoughts on what needs to be done. UKIP's Clive Medway says he wants to see more flexible policing so officer numbers can be increased when it really matters in the summer months. Stephen Gilbert, Lib Dem, says he wants to scale back licensing hours to reduce the time during which alcohol can be bought. And Caroline Righton, for the Conservatives, says her party would force supermarkets to raise their alcohol prices.

1214Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy has given an upbeat assessment of Labour's prospects in Scotland, reports the BBC's Iain Watson. Mr Murphy says Labour has come from second place in the polls a year ago to enjoy a double-digit lead now, and some Labour voters who had defected to the SNP now feel "remorse".
Iain Watson

1208Brooke Kinsella, whose brother Ben was stabbed to death, said she was backing David Cameron because of the "positive policies he is offering" to tackle youth violence, and she didn't want to be negative about the other parties. But she did say of Labour: "Sadly, although I think they care, I do not think they have done enough."

1202Grahame Capron-Tee, from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, writes: It seems so obvious to me that the Commons should be elected using the first-past-the-post system, so constituency MPs can be called to account and the largest party forms the government. The reformed House of Lords should then be filled with appointees based on the proportions of popular vote and from a pre-published list. Simples!
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1153David Cameron was tackled over his policies for disabled children after his speech in south London, reports the BBC's Carole Walker. The Conservative leader, whose own disabled son Ivan died last year, wants to make it easier for children with special needs to go to specialist schools. But Jonathan Bartley, who was with his seven-year-old son Samuel, argued strongly that disabled children should be educated in mainstream schools.
Carole Walker

1146Mr Brown says he's been speaking to voters and they've been asking him about jobs and the economy. "They're frustrated like me," he says, "that these great issues are not being featured in this election campaign." With repeated punches of his fist on his hand, he says he's "shocked and angry" that both the Tories and Lib Dems want to cut support for families.

1143Ilmigliorfabbro tweets: It is really awful that people are actually scared about voting for what they believe in. Vote Lib Dem, get Lib Dem. Read Ilmigliorfabbro tweets
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1137Harriet Harman is speaking in Stirling - we haven't seen much of her so far in the election campaign. She praises Gordon Brown's record on helping children and families, both as chancellor and prime minister. The PM himself then gets up and returns the praise, saying "there's no greater defender of women's rights" than Ms Harman and he's proud to have her as his deputy.

1132Can the web organise a hung parliament? Well, the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones lists the websites trying to do just that. He says they'll have to work quickly to have an impact, but if the polls are anything to go by, they don't need to bother - it'll happen anyway. Read Rory Cellan-Jones's blog
Rory Cellan-Jones

1125Gordon Brown and his wife Sarah have arrived at a nursery in Stirling. One of the children gives the prime minister a pink plastercine piglet - what is it about pigs today? He thanks the child, saying "it's not every day you get a gift like that". Well, quite. The visit is part of an effort by Labour to cast their family policies in a favourable light compared with those of the Tories and Lib Dems.

1114"I am beginning to wonder whether this first post-Obama election really speaks to the frustrated yearning for leadership - the yearning for individuals who stir both the brain nodes and the heart strings," writes Channel 4's Jon Snow, comparing the UK contest with that in the US. He says Barack Obama "offered a new narrative", and adds: "No one can seriously say that in our economically perilous times anyone is doing that here."

1107In the Guardian, George Monbiot says: "The most pernicious lie in politics is that the press is a democratising force." Read our round-up of commentators' theories on what is wrong with politics.

1100Fixing what he calls the broken society "requires the head as well as the heart," says Mr Cameron. He says he would make practical changes - improving schools, reducing benefit dependency, freeing up police from paperwork - to improve things, but would also demand action from all of us. He says he believes families are "the crucible of responsibility" and if we all - as families, communities and as a country - do more, change can be achieved.

1054The SNP deputy leader, Nicola Sturgeon, has arrived at the Court of Session in Edinburgh to begin a legal challenge to try to force the BBC to include her party in Thursday's prime ministerial debate. "The debate cannot and should not be allowed to go ahead while it excludes one of the main political parties in Scotland," she said. "This is not just about the SNP, this is about the right of voters in Scotland."

1045David Cameron says there is a danger that we become almost immune to youth violence. He tells his audience in Vauxhall: "As our sensitivity gets coarsened, we get a step further away from what it is to be civilised." He says there has "always been violence, always been evil," but there is something about the "depravity" of crimes today - like the murder of Sofyen Belamouadden in his school uniform at London's Victoria Station - that reveals a fundamental problem in our society.

1039Former EastEnders actress Brooke Kinsella, whose brother Ben was stabbed to death in London in 2008, is giving her support to the Conservatives. She's appearing alongside David Cameron at a press conference in south London today. She says she wants a party in power that will make the streets safer and get tough on knife crime. "I think that David and the Conservatives will do that," she says. Ms Kinsella has campaigned on youth violence since her brother's death and has previously appeared on platforms with Gordon Brown.

1024Gill Milward, from Stoke-on-Trent, writes: All parties focus on what they will do for the family and for the lower paid workers. Both me and my husband have worked extremely hard hard nearly 30 years - he has his own business and I am a nurse manager. We are unable to have children and are not in the low paid bracket. What are the politicians planning to do for us?
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1017A descent into the surreal at Labour's press conference. Ed Balls is asked about TV character Peppa Pig's withdrawal from a Labour event in the interests of political neutrality. Mr Balls says he actually appeared with Peppa at an event last month, but she's "an international star" and naturally, has other commitments. However, he insists she's a supporter of universal child support and "would be very upset if George Pig lost his child trust fund".

1010"Nick Griffin's manifesto reveals a party keen to turn voters into supporters of a racially 'pure' Britain, 'bound together by blood'," writes Jim Wolfreys, of the Guardian. He says that a close analysis of the document shows "features of a political current that has existed before". He writes: "It has a name. The BNP has simply adapted its legacy to contemporary conditions. Its name is fascism."

1001Tim Montgomerie, writing on the ConservativeHome blog, issues a rallying cry to his party - "a nine-day plan to win a majority". He wants to see the "big beasts" - Boris Johnson, John Major and Michael Heseltine, among others - on the campaign trail. He also says "every voter in Britain needs to know there are 10 worthwhile things that will happen from day one of a Conservative government," such as a two-year freeze of council tax, no more early release for prisoners and a cut in net migration of 75%.

0956MartinJDeane tweets: 100 years ago the struggle was for the vote. This century it's for votes that count.
Read MartinJDeane's tweets
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0951Schools Secretary Ed Balls says both the Lib Dems and Conservatives would make cuts to the child tax credit system. He accuses the Tories of "taking a nest egg away from millions of children while boosting the nest egg for 3,000 millionaires" through their inheritance tax policy. Nick Clegg's party would do even more to damage families by abolishing the child trust fund altogether, Mr Balls adds.

0945"It's wrong to tell children that their families are second class just because their parents are not married," says Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper. She lists a number of Labour plans for families - toddler tax credits, more flexible working and a month's leave for new fathers. She accuses the Tories of being "unfair, irresponsible and out of date" by favouring marriage, rather than children, with their plans for a marriage tax break.

0939We're heading over now to a Labour Party press conference in Westminster. Business Secretary Lord Mandelson is first on the stage - he accuses the Conservatives and Lib Dems of being part of "a coalition of cuts" that will hit families and especially children.

0934"Hooray," cheers Nick Clegg when a BBC Radio 5 live listener tells him she's been looking at Lib Dem policies, not his hung Parliament strategy. Unfortunately, she then goes on to ask him about just that. "I'm Nick Clegg, I'm not Nostradamus," he says, explaining that he can't predict what voters will do. But if they support his values and his plans, they should pick him, he adds.

0926More than 2,000 people have been sent the wrong polling cards for the election. The voters living in Bristol West have been sent documents for Bristol East. The city council says it may have to hand deliver new polling cards to up to 800 homes.

0918Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, says parents should "wake up and shout about toddler top-up fees". She claims that the Conservative suggestion of charging for nursery places calls into question "Cameron's commitment to social justice and improving social mobility". This is what elections should be about, she says, adding: "If families have spotted this it ought to be electoral suicide for the Tories, and it is a sign of the weakness of Labour's campaign that it isn't the hot issue."

0911Phil, from Stafford, writes: "I wish Brown would stop rattling on about spending cuts as if spending money is all that is needed to guarantee good services. Surely it is about providing what is needed at the lowest cost, not throwing money at problems and hoping! He seems to be trying to scare people into thinking that less spending automatically equates to less services - it doesn't."
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0904"The problem the Conservatives have is they say they will cut the deficit, cut your tax and ringfence the most expensive departments - all at the same time. Now that simply isn't credible," Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Jeremy Browne tells the BBC.

0858"The shine is coming off Nick Clegg. Labour still has everything to play for", writes Mary Riddell, in the Daily Telegraph. She thinks "Labour should abandon its obsession with post-election deals and focus on winning the election". Just a small shift in a favour of Gordon Brown et al "could transform the outcome", but they need to be more positive, she adds.

0852Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg will be taking questions from BBC Radio 5 live listeners from 9am. Share your thoughts on what he has to say here.

0847Former Conservative education secretary Lord Baker tells the BBC it's "extraordinary" that only the three main parties are involved in the television debates. He says he believes the smaller parties should have been included at some stage.

0840"We do think Britain is a more violent place than it was 10 years ago," says shadow home secretary Chris Grayling. He's been accused by Labour of "lying" about rising crime, but Mr Grayling told the BBC that in the past, "we didn't get teenagers in school uniform knifing each other". He says his party would introduce "a zero-tolerance approach" to carrying a knife.

0834Brian Wooster, from Milford Haven, writes: "Nick Clegg's idea of stopping prison building and reforming the penal system is utter rubbish. He claims that these prisons are 'colleges of crime'. That is because these days prison is not a deterrent. Prison should be made harder, to deter further crimes, where people who have been sent to prison have such a hard time they do not want to go back. At present they are publicly-funded free holidays, where even their families are also cared for. What a joke."
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0827The National Union of Students says hundreds of parliamentary candidates have signed a petition opposing any rise in tuition fees. Some 400 from the Lib Dems, 200 each from Labour, UKIP and the Greens, and 13 Conservatives, are on board, and NUS president Aaron Porter says it means any attempt to raise fees could be defeated in the event of a hung Parliament.

0820Nick Clegg says that if there is a hung Parliament, both David Cameron and Gordon Brown "will have some real problems in their parties because they haven't delivered what they promised". But he tells BBC Radio 5 live that "what interests me is not the personalities, not personal likes and dislikes". Rather than worrying about who to work with, he says he's only focused on who will best adopt his priorities for the country.

0815John Lapage, from Coventry, writes: "How arrogant is the SNP? The three parties who attend the debates field candidates in every constituency, yet the SNP thinks that it should be allowed to debate alongside them, wasting the time of everyone who can't possibly vote for them!"
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0807The SNP are expected to start legal proceedings today against the BBC. Party leader Alex Salmond says it's a "democratic disgrace" that his party has been excluded from this Thursday's live prime ministerial debate on the economy. He hopes the court action will force the BBC to change the format.

0758Quick cartoon round-up. Matt, in the Daily Telegraph, depicts a home shopping delivery. The van driver says: "Substitutions: you ordered nappies, we gave you six lemons; you wanted eggs, we gave you jaffa cakes; you're voting Lib Dem, but you'll get Gordon Brown." The Times shows Gordon Brown eating the lion's share of a little old lady's cake, and telling her: "Thank you! Of course, I've always believed in proportional representation myself!". Finally, the Daily Mirror pictures two bow-tie-wearing children on a sofa, champagne and caviar on hand. Their parents say: "I think the kids have been watching too much Cameron on TV."

0750Andrew Larner, from Canterbury, writes: "They still haven't got the message, have they? If we elect a hung Parliament, that's up to us. Their job is to make it work, not to lecture us on why it won't."
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0740"I don't think it helps in an election if one party is telling lies about crime. It's part of their broken society claptrap," says Alan Johnson, Home Secretary. He's accusing the Conservatives of drumming up fear about crime despite statistics showing the UK is getting safer.

0723Chris Huhne says the Lib Dems believe the prison building programme should stop - as Britain imprisons more people per head of population than anywhere else in western Europe. Young men imprisoned for first offences pick up bad habits in these "colleges of crime", he says and there's a high re-offending rate. He also suggests that the Tory justice spokesman Dominic Grieve agrees that short jail terms "clog up the courts". "Prisons should be for serious offenders and serial offences," says Mr Huhne.

0712Crime is due to be a big theme today as the Tories focus on the "broken society". Chris Huhne, for the Lib Dems, has told the Today programme overall crime trends often have little to do with government action - crime has fallen in every country except Belgium, apparently.

0641Sorry to harp on about hung parliaments, having said parties want to talk about policy, but BBC political correspondent Norman Smith has been explaining why it's been generating the headlines. Brutally, he says, there's more "crossover" in policies between the parties than at many other elections - partly due to the Conservative move towards the centre ground - and there's few election sweeteners as there is no money. Also there was little new in the manifestos - due to the protracted process of drawing them up. Meanwhile a hung parliament would be new, different and historic - that's why journalists are drawn to the topic.

0633Now for some lighter election news - children's TV favourite Peppa Pig will now not be appearing at a Labour election event as the company which licenses her, appears to want her to remain politically neutral. And David Cameron has claimed that The Wire star Dominic West once was sweet on his wife, Samantha. The Tory leader tells the Radio Times: "The Wire is excellent. Dominic West, who plays Jimmy McNulty, is a friend. He tried to go out with Samantha once. He fancied Samantha. I won!"

0621Three new polls out today show how close the race is now between the three biggest parties - with only 4-5 percentage points between them. A ComRes poll for ITV News puts the Tories on 32%, Lib Dems on 31% and Labour on 28%. An ICM poll for the Guardian puts the Tories on 33%, Lib Dems on 30% and Labour on 28% and a YouGov survey for the Sun puts the Tories on 33%, Lib Dems on 29% and Labour on 28%. A three-horse race it is then - expect the hung parliament chatter to continue.

0612Morning - welcome back. Will today see an end to talk about hung parliaments and a shift back to policy? The BBC's political correspondent Ben Wright says the parties are concerned about the focus on hung parliaments and on the TV debates. Expect Labour attacks on Conservative and Lib Dem plans for child tax credits and child trust funds, Conservative criticism of the "broken society" and Nick Clegg will promise nurses a greater say in how the NHS is run.
Ben Wright

0010The Financial Times reports that Labour's election co-ordinator, Douglas Alexander, is refuting Conservative claims that voting for the Lib Dems will help Tory candidates in marginal seats.

2359 MondayFormer Tory MP Michael Portillo tells This Week that the opinion polls do not give "much hope" of the Conservatives winning an overall majority. Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone suggests there is a chance of a fundamental "realignment" of British politics. Former London mayor Ken Livingstone says some Lib Dem supporters may drift back to Labour before polling day but he still expects a hung Parliament



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